Wet and windy: Tropical Storm Michael arrives in Delaware

Milford public works employees Billy Foxwell, left, and Leroy Lahman stack sandbags in Milford on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Delaware residents should have known what to expect when Tropical Storm Michael kissed the coast Thursday, especially after a series of four nor’easters took place in late February and March earlier this year.

Just like those nor’easters, Tropical Storm Michael (downgraded from its Category 4 hurricane status) brought with it several inches of rain, gusty winds and the potential to knock down trees and leave residents without electricity.

Trent Davis, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said the further south in Delaware an individual was on Thursday, the more effects they felt from the tropical storm.

“I would say probably parts of Sussex County would face the greatest threat in Delaware, especially with low-lying areas for the heavy rainfall,” Mr. Davis said, on Thursday afternoon. “It’s a big storm system so all of Delaware will be impacted in some way, but the greatest impacts will like be to the south.”

The city of Milford’s Public Works Department invited area businesses to stop by its office to pick up sandbags to prevent the threat of flooding to their stores.

Tropical Storm Michael was expected to accelerate across North Carolina into southeast Virginia before moving off the East Coast this morning and out to sea as a post-tropical low.

Jeremy Tucker, the communications manager for Delaware Electric Coop, said the company closely monitors and takes every storm seriously.

“That’s what we’re thinking right now,” Mr. Tucker said on Thursday. “Crews are making sure trucks are stocked and gassed up and have all of the supplies we need just in case the situation gets worse. The whole company, of course, is on standby.

“We take these sorts of storms really seriously. The winds gusts involved with the tropical storm will certainly be high enough to cause trees to fall down and for power outages to occur. We’ll be ready for them.”

Mr. Davis said the NWS issued a flash-flood and high-wind warnings for Delaware on Thursday afternoon.

“The main concern is just with the heavy rainfall mixed with strong winds, which could also be an issue,” Mr. Davis said. “The flash-flood watch will continue until sometime early (this) morning. A bit of saturation might be somewhat of an issue.

“We are expecting two to four inches of rain to fall over Delaware, with heavier amounts possible in some areas.

“In terms of winds, the winds will gust as high as 25 miles-per-hour (Thursday) with gusts up to 33 miles-per-hour and (this morning) will be the windiest period, with winds gusts over 40 miles-per-hour.”

The city of Dover’s Facebook page reminded residents of the impending tropical storm and offered some advice on how to prepare for it.

“Tropical Storm Michael has the potential to bring rain and flash flooding in our area,” the city’s Facebook post read. “To increase the effectiveness of the storm sewers near your home, please take a few minutes and make sure they are clear of debris.”

There is always cause for concern for flooding at Water Street, at its intersection with Governors Avenue. The last storm also brought flooding waters to the parking area behind the Dover Public Library.

The NWS issued a flash flood watch for Kent County, inland Sussex County and the Delaware beaches that was in affect from 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon through late Thursday night.

The flash flood watch included the cities of Dover, Georgetown, Rehoboth Beach and Wilmington.

“A flash-flood watch means that there is the potential for flash flooding, which can be life-threatening,” Mr. Davis said. Heavy rain is expected to occur over a short period of time.

“Rapidly rising flood waters may quickly inundate roadways and areas of poor drainage. Streams and creeks could leave their banks, flooding nearby properties.”

The NWS forecast said that showers would develop with the heaviest rainfall expected to be Thursday afternoon through late night and into early this morning. Rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches, with locally higher amounts, were predicted.

The heaviest rain was expected to fall across portions of Delmarva and the Coastal Plain of New Jersey. The Interstate 95 corridor is also susceptible to heavy rain and flash flooding.

The NWS said flash flooding is possible on roadways and especially in areas of poor drainage. Minor flooding along small streams and creeks is possible as well.

A wind advisory was also in effect this morning from 2 a.m. until 8 a.m. The NWS was expecting winds from the Northwest at 20 to 30 mph with gusts 45 to 50 mph.

Strong winds have the potential to blow down limbs, trees and power lines, with scattered power outages expected.

“The whole company, of course, is on standby,” Mr. Tucker said, of the Delaware Electric Coop. “Responding to storms and power outages is just one of the parts of our job.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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